National Geographic Virtual Library: National Geographic Magazine Archive, 1888-1994

National Geographic 1992 Mixed herds of Burchell’s zebra and wildebeest on the move in the plains of the Serengeti. Serengeti National Park, Tanzania. Photographer: Michael Nichols
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Primary Sources
More than 600,000
Fact Sheet

Explore over a century of iconic images and fascinating narratives that capture the wonder of our planet and beyond.

As the official journal of the nonprofit National Geographic Society, National Geographic magazine built its reputation delivering the highest-quality photojournalism and cartography in the world.

As generations of researchers and fans will attest, the iconic monthly publication provides unparalleled, in-depth coverage of cultures, nature, science, technology, and more – making it an essential resource for educators and students as well as general readers. Thanks to advanced digital technology, your library can now offer unlimited access to the magazine to the mid-1990s – every article from every issue, each fully searchable through an intuitive interface.

Deliver an unparalleled National Geographic experience by subscribing to all parts of the National Geographic Virtual Library – search the vivid photographs and historic articles as well as engaging videos and detailed maps.

When National Geographic magazine debuted in 1888, it reflected the interests of its small, mostly professional readership. The focus then was on scholarly articles such as “Geographic Methods in Geologic Investigation” and less on photos between its conservative brown covers.

Now, after more than a century of delivering unforgettable images and text, National Geographic is journalism’s most recognized name in exploration and discovery, bringing the wonders of the world to some 60 million people each month.

With comprehensive, relevant articles and legendary photographs and maps, the iconic magazine documents life on our planet and beyond, interpreting the world through the lens of personal experience, including:

  • Jane Goodall’s encounters with chimpanzees in Tanzania
  • Hiram Bingham’s expedition into Machu Picchu in 1911
  • Robert Ballard’s 1985 discovery of the Titanic on the floor of the Atlantic Ocean
  • And many more examples

A Legendary Magazine's Digital Facelift

For decades, libraries kept printed editions of National Geographic on the shelves, which limited reader access and put the magazines at risk for loss or damage. But today, you have another choice.

Every page of this vast knowledge base is now faithfully reproduced and easily searchable in National Geographic Magazine Archive, 1888-1994. This incomparable new digital archive is an essential resource for researchers of all ages as well as a fascinating collection for general readers.

Look Inside

Additional Details

Subjects Covered
  • Social Studies
  • Humanities/Humanistic Studies
  • Social Sciences
  • U.S. History
  • American/United States Studies/Civilization

Brochure [PDF]

Term Frequency

Researchers can now easily see the frequency of search terms within sets of content to begin identifying central themes and assessing how individuals, events, and ideas interacted and developed over time.

Term Clusters

By grouping commonly occurring themes, this tool reveals hidden connections to search terms — helping scholars shape their research and integrate diverse content with relevant information.


Integrate content from complementary primary source products in one intuitive environment to enable users to make never-before-possible research connections.

Reviews & Testimonials

“The content of the National Geographic Magazine Archive is phenomenal. The scanned issues are of great quality and the browsing and searching interfaces are quite good. One-time purchase costs may even be manageable for many institutions. The archive is recommended for public libraries, as well as school libraries and some academic institutions.”

Library Journal, October 2012

“This wonderful database will be of use to libraries with space shortages, a need to access back issues frequently, or both...Summing Up: Recommended. All libraries; lower-division undergraduates through professionals, and general readers.”

CHOICE, November 2012